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Somerset board debates getting new radios

Last month the Village of Somerset board members decided not to buy the public works department new narrowband radios.

This month they revisited their decision.

At the Monday, June 20,board meeting, Ryan Sicard, public works committee

chairman, brought the subject up for debate again.

Sicard said that the Federal Communications Commission is requiring all agencies operating below 512 MHz move to the 12.5 kHz (narrowband) by Jan. 1, 2013. Which means, any radios or equipment that had been purchased

after 1997 may be reprogrammed; older radios and equipment would have to be replaced.

"I wanted to clarify a couple of points," began Sicard. "The public works department is considered an essential service/first response service.Under FCC guidelines, we are required to upgrade our radios to digital or narrowband. Of our dozen, we have only one radio we can reprogram."

Jeff Johnson, village president, was shocked that the public works department was considered an "essential service."

"The state recognizes street departments as essential services?"he asked. "That is a very critical word."

Johnson had earlier rejected the idea of purchasing new radios, claiming that many of the workers can communicate via cell phones.

Rob Wheldon, from the public works department, argued in favor of getting the radios.

"We need to be NIMS(National Incident Management System) compliant," said Wheldon. "In the event of an emergency, we are looped in with the police departments and fire departments as first responders."

Wheldon and Sicard said they are asking for portable radios for the five public works employees - six when the new public works director is hired. Johnson said he would prefer the vehicles have permanently mounted radios so they wouldn't be accidentally dropped in the field.

"If the public works department is looped in with this, let's go and get on board," sighed Johnson.

Sicard said he would take the proposed purchase request back to the public

works committee to iron out the details and bring it back before the board again next


In other news:

• The board set up a special meeting on Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. to address the 2011-12 liquor license agents for F.F. Mac, LLC, a "Class B" beer and liquor license renewal for Kindustries, LLC, and a new "Class B" beer and liquor license for F.F. Mac LLC - Johnyrocks. These items were on the agenda for the regular board meeting, but the applicants weren't able to attend.

• The board approved the public works director job description to include that this position will act as a building zone administrator. They also altered the residency requirement from living in the Village of Somerset to a response time of 30 minutes.

• The utility plans and the sewer hookup/impact fees for the Somerset Amphitheater were tabled until next month.

• The board approved a $10,500 contract to have the cracks in Sunrise and LaGrandeur streets filled and village streets painted. They are also invoking the warranty for the seal coating thatwas done on Spring Street last fall, since the high heat caused the surface to break down the week before Pea Soup Days.

• There are six candidates for the public works director

position. They are hoping to have the position filled by the July board meeting.

• The board approved Resolution 2011-07, which supported the Somerset Hockey Arena and its quest to keep the Wisconsin Fire Hockey Club together. The club may disband, and the arena wanted to show its support since the club rents a lot of ice time and holds tournaments in the village.

• The Village of Somerset traditionally meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall. The public is welcome to attend.